Archaeologists have discovered the sunken ruins of a 7,000-year-old road that once linked an ancient artificial landmass to the Croatian island of Korčula. The submerged road, along with several other artifacts, belonged to a lost maritime culture known as the Hvar, who occupied this area during the Neolithic Era.
Igor Borzić, a researcher at the Archaeology Department at the University of Zadar who was investigating sites on land, spotted “strange structures” at a depth of about 15 feet in the Bay of Gradina, on the western coast of Korčula, according to a statement from the university. Over the weekend, the university released new footage of the underwater passage, which was made of stacked stones and measured some 12 feet across.
“In underwater archaeological research of the submerged neolithic site of Soline on the island of Korčula, archaeologists found remains that surprised them,” said the University of Zadar in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday. “Namely, beneath the layers of sea mud, they discovered a road that connected the sunken prehistoric settlement of the Hvar culture with the coast of the island of Korčula.”
Flint blades, stone axes, and fragments of millstones were also recovered from the underwater ruins, according to the team. The artifacts shed light on the mysterious Hvar peoples, who settled on the islands and coasts of the northeast Adriatic Sea some 7,000 years ago.
The underwater research is a collaboration between multiple scientists and institutions, according to the university, and is being led by archaeologist Mate Parica, who has been investigating the site for several years.
Many Hvar ruins and artifacts have been discovered underwater, including a settlement that was constructed on top of an artificially created island. The newly discovered road linked this island to the coast of Korčula, according to the statement. Hvar peoples also left behind ornaments and pottery, as well as evidence of subsistence farming and burial rituals.
In addition to underwater surveys, archaeologists are also excavating ancient sites on land, including a cave in the nearby town of Vela Luka that has been occupied for at least 19,000 years by many different cultures, including the Hvar.